Prey and Predator

It was a relaxing afternoon game drive as we set off from Kapama’s Buffalo Camp.  It was the first time that my guests had ever visited South Africa and it just so happened to be there very first safari. Every part of the African bushveld mesmerized them as we made our way along the Reserve roads. Even the array of numerous small birds and general plains game like giraffe, nyala, wildebeest and zebra that we encountered, made them smile at every turn. They were so excited about everything they saw and what I pointed out to them, soaking up everything the bushveld had to offer.  As they were so excited about the surroundings, I decided not to rush to find any of the Big 5, as they had a few days with us.

While we were driving around, the sun slowly started it’s decent, signally the time to enjoy a delicious sundowner and snacks. Before we picked our spot to watch the sunset, I decided to make a quick turn around a waterhole close by. When we arrived, an amazing surprise was waiting for us.

Not one, but two of the Big 5 could be spotted lounging alongside the water. A pride of Lions on one side and 2 huge male Buffalos on the other side of the water.  My guest couldn’t believe their eyes. Two of the Big 5 in such close proximity.One being prey and the other predator – for a moment, suspended together in perfect harmony.

Looking a little closer at the situation and understanding the dynamics of the scene before us, made sense why they were not bothering each other. The Lion was panting trying to keep cool as it was a very hot day, and on top of that, we could see from their full and extended bellies they recently feasted on a kill. With full stomachs and the heat of the day taking its toll on them, they were so lazy that they would not put any further effort into going around the water to try hunt down the Buffalo.  It would have just been a waste of energy for them.

The kill that the Lions had feasted on was nowhere in sight, so they could just come to the water to have a drink and cool down. As for the Buffalo, they knew that the Lions were lazy and at that moment were not in danger. Feeling safe, they decided to stay close to the dam. With a huge body of water separating them from the Lions they felt more confident to also enjoy the coolness of the water.

The longer we sat on the game drive vehicle, enjoying this remarkable scene, the more bizarre it seemed for these animals to happily share the same waterhole without bothering each other. After the cameras snapped away taking countless pictures, we decided to move on and enjoy the drink we originally planned.

My guests still could not believe it – Two of the Big 5. Especially that it was unplanned and we just stumbled onto them, made the sighting that much more exciting.

Sometimes it takes a bit more than tracking skills and knowledge of the bush. It’s about timing and being at the right moment at the right place. That is when you get to see some of the most unexpected things in the African Bushveld.

Photos and story by: Ranger Ben Scheepers – Buffalo camp.   

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